All but one Los Angeles Lakers player reported to a practice facility on Tuesday for exit interviews with coach Devin Ham, vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka. LeBron James is being given all the time he needs to think about his future on the team, just one day after telling ESPN he would consider retiring this summer following their loss in the Western Conference Finals.
Pelinka said, “I look forward to talking to you when the time is right.” “But I will say this: LeBron has dedicated as much to the game of basketball as anyone has ever played, and when you do that, you earn the right to decide whether to give more.
“Sometimes it feels like we’re putting athletes, entertainers, on a pedestal, but they’re human and they’re just like us. There’s an inflection point in their careers, and our job as leaders is to help our team.” To support every player when they reach that point.” …and nothing but support for that. Obviously our hope is for his career to continue, but we want to give him time again.”
After the longest postseason of his career, James’ teammates responded with a mixture of support and disbelief when asked if James could possibly stop playing after four championships and a trip to 10 NBA Finals.
DeAngelo Russell said, “It would be insane to see him walk away from the game, especially when he feels like he has more in the tank.”
Troy Brown Jr. added: Personally I think he will continue to play because of his love for the game.”
The Lakers’ campaign began with a five-game losing streak in the regular season and ended with a four-game loss to the Denver Nuggets in the Conference Finals, but Ham said his first year in office set the stage for success for the team. does. The franchise is moving forward.
“Make no mistake, this is not a one-time deal,” Haim said. “We’ll be around, we’ll have issues to deal with. I can guarantee you that.”
Haim’s vow to materialize will help James return in season 21. The 38-year-old James signed a contract next season and ended the campaign named to the All-NBA Third Team, but he faces a tough 2022-23.
A source close to James called it the forward’s “raw hour”. James is having a disastrous season plagued by a foot injury which has delayed his campaign for a month. It was thrilling as the Lakers defeated the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round and the defending champion Golden State Warriors in the second round. His 40 points in 48 minutes was devastating as it wasn’t enough to get L.A. the win in Monday’s Game 4 against the Nuggets.
Pelinka said, “It’s clear he has the right prescription, as the doctor’s opinion of ‘oh, the season could be over’ to be able to finish the way he did last night is breathtaking.”
While the Lakers are giving James their spot, Pelinka said the franchise will continue to build on James and Anthony Davis and play with young talent as long as the league’s all-time leading scorer is on board. Like James, Davis was signed for the following season. Max Christie is the only other player to have a fully guaranteed contract with LA until 2023-24. Jarred Vanderbilt has some portion guaranteed, but with a contract worth $4.7 million next season, the Lakers will certainly option him up.
Pelinka said, “LeBron and Eddie are two pillars, an unmatched combination for us and we will continue to bend and build.” “We are proud of our mix of superstars and we look forward to continuing to invest and build on this year’s growth into next season.”
James and Davis may be building the engine, but the team still needs the wheels to propel it forward, and the Lakers will have to make some important roster decisions.
Russell is eligible to sign a two-year, $67.5 million contract extension through June 30, after which he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
Los Angeles has team options for Malik Beasley ($16.5 million) and Mo Bamba ($10.3 million) next season. Rui Hachimura and Austin Reeves are both restricted free agents. This means that LA can match any outside offers it may receive from other teams to retain him.
Pelinka said, “I can tell you very clearly, our intent is to keep our core youth together and I think we have seen the incredible growth and accomplishment of Austin Louie.” “You can go down the list: Wando, D-Lo. We have a lot of great young players and we want to do our best to put the puzzle together.”
Sources tell ES that LA plans to retain Hachimura and Reeves and sees the two as cultural pieces for the organization.
Russell is perhaps the most polarizing of the group.
He had a solid upgrade from Russell Westbrook for most of the season since he was acquired from the Minnesota Timberwolves at the trade deadline, but Russell struggled against Denver and lost his starting job in Game 4. In the series, he averaged 6.3 points in 32 games. % from the field (3 to 13.3%) and 3.5 assists. He made several notable comments on Tuesday, including describing his second stint with the franchise as a “complete success”.
He explained it like this. I don’t even know what the future holds. If you put together a group that knows the game and everything, and everybody wants the same goal, I think you’ll have some success.”
LA’s former No. 2 pick in the 2015 draft has expressed interest in returning, but seems confident no matter what happens this summer.
“To be honest, at this point in your career, I think you are who you are. And I’m good.” Russell said. “I don’t worry about my game. I know who I am as a player. I know what I can do. I can win games. I can play better than your point guard. I’m your point guard.” Do better than a shooting guard.
While the Lakers have been swept in the playoffs, there is no denying how the team started the season by becoming one of the Final Four teams to be swept on an improbable 2-10 run. And there’s a general feeling that getting another chance next season will have even more success in store for us.
Beasley said, “I don’t think a team can beat us again in a seven-match series if we have this kind of experience and we play together.”